A Shenanigan of No Real Significance

Cadwallader set his fork down and wiped his mouth politely with a dainty napkin. The lively candlelight reflected off his bald pate, resulting in a light show that would prompt a toupee for most men. Setting his napkin in his lap once more, he called for Chauncey.

The butler entered regally and took a bow that would also prompt a hair transplant for most men, had hair transplants been a viable option in that point in time. In the process of baring the top of his head to Cadwallader, he slammed his forehead on the table and was knocked unconscious for a slight period. Cadwallader called for Archibald.

The slender Archibald in turn gathered a small army of subservient servants and hoisted the mass of Chauncey into his bunk in the servants' quarters. Oh, the torture of being a servant! thought Archibald. Why don't I just run away and get a job in politics? Returning to Cadwallader's side, Archibald took a slightly more careful and less bald bow.

The author would like to apologize for this time-wasting silliness.

Suddenly Cadwallader was taken by a whim, and slammed a knife into the intricate woodwork of the table. Drawing his hand back violently, he left the knife oscillating handle-first in the air. "Where is my venison?" he demanded loudly.

"If I may make so bold," Archibald replied coolly, "it is in your stomach." The wall of flab that is your stomach, my master. I think even Ehud, who did mortally wound Eglon, would find your stomach very hard to deal with.

Cadwallader smiled a flabby smile. "That is certainly a very reasonable guess. I would wager that you are correct, unless I have been recently deceived by the illusion of eating venison."

Archibald bowed once more, muttering mentally to himself. Venison. Most disgusting. It is no wonder that you are so blasted fat. When mighty roast beef was the Englishman's food, it ennobled our veins and enriched our blood. Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good. Oh! the roast beef of Old England, and Old English roast beef!

Cadwallader lifted his pudgy mass out of the chair with scarcely a grunt, a very impressive feat for someone so rotund. Stretching his back, he glanced at the clock. "Ah," said he, "Nearly eight in the evening. It is time."

A confused but disciplined Archibald held back his curiosity and let his master continue his speech.

"Dear Archibald, it is a most disturbing thing. When I was traveling in the Mediterranean countries in the days of my youth, I came across a shop that stooped so low as to sell quality bouzoukis. So I bought a bouzouki. I learned to play that bouzouki, and play it I did. I played that bouzouki on the street corners. I played that bouzouki on the Seine. I played that bouzouki till the cows came home."

They came home, Archibald thought, because there was nowhere else safe from your blasted stringed instrument.

Cadwallader began a waddling circuit in the middle of the dining room, not even deigning to look at Archibald. "But that bouzouki carried me through many hard times when I was near your age. I played that bouzouki on the stage, and I played that bouzouki when I was all alone. I played that bouzouki for money, and I played that bouzouki merely for the pleasure of playing the bouzouki."

Cadwallader stopped pacing in front of a mirror, in which he gazed at Archibald's reflection. "As you may perceive, I have grown a little too fat in my old age." His servant barely stifled a 'hear, hear!' "As such," Cadwallader continued, turning to face Archibald, "I can no longer play the bouzouki."

The fat man moved to a cabinet in the corner of the room, and took a key ring from inside his coat. Unlocking the cabinet, he removed a stringed instrument, presumably a bouzouki. He waddled back to Archibald and thrust the bouzouki into his arms.

"Take this," Cadwallader said simply, and he keeled over dead.

A stunned Archibald rushed from the room, overturning a priceless original bust of Aristophanes on a pedestal outside the dining room. He hurriedly swept the shards underneath a low decorative table nearby, and placed the bouzouki on the pedestal in Aristophanes' place, hoping no one would notice.

Hurrying towards the servants' quarters, Archibald ran into Chauncey, who was sprouting a very remarkable bruise. Chauncey was hastily rushing to serve his master. When Archibald broke the news to him, he fainted and bashed his head on a pedestal with a bust of Hippocrates resting upon it. As Chauncey flopped on the ground, now sporting a remarkable gash, the bust of Hippocrates toppled and smashed over his head. By a stroke of sheer coincidence that has nothing to do with the whims of the author, the bust contained the single greatest achievement of the Greek physician, an elixir that promptly clotted the blood blooming from Chauncey's forehead. He would live to see another day.

Needless to say, the rest of the manor's servants were out in the forest poaching, like all servants were wont to do in those days. When Archibald realized this, he thought that, for his own safety, he ought to run away so he could not be framed for the death of Cadwallader. Slowing his pace only a little, he collected his things from his bunk. He also picked up the bouzouki on his way out.

Standing in the lane in the late evening, Archibald had nowhere to go. Therefore he went north, though he didn't get very far before he perceived that he really ought to get some rest. Finding a deserted barn, he climbed into a horse stall and sat down.

With nothing else to do, the runaway began strumming the bouzouki, hoping he would gradually drift off to the harmonic tones of the stringed instrument. Suddenly the world burst into flames around him, and he was catapulted into the surrounding abandoned fields. Brushing himself off, Archibald gazed that the barn, as it quickly disintegrated, taking most of his supplies with it.

The bouzouki has magical powers! Archibald thought to himself. How contrived!

"No it isn't," said the Author.

"Yes, I think it is," said Archibald. "This would never happen in real life."

"Can you prove that statement beyond any argument, physical or metaphysical?" asked the Author.

"No, but it stands to reason."

"This all becomes moot when you realize that you're the one talking to your Author, which also never happens in what the readers know of as real life," the Author remarked.

"True," Archibald admitted.

"So therefore, your definition of real life is probably highly different from the readers' definition of real life. Since you have just discovered that the bouzouki has magical powers, you must conclude that, in your real life, it is indeed possible."

"But I'm not real," said Archibald.

"Then why are you talking to me?" asked the Author.

"Because, relatively speaking, everything I know exists. You, the Author, could simple be a part of my real life universe."

"So, you're saying, the Author to whom you are speaking might not be the Author who is writing this tale?"

"Precisely."

"But the Author is the one who is coming up with this conversation."

"Also true."

"This is all very confusing. Perhaps you should play a diminished seventh chord on your bouzouki," the Author suggested. "All the answers will become clear."

So Archibald played a diminished seventh chord. Reality split into two parts. In one reality, Archibald realized the potential for such great harmony and started the world's first barbershop quartet. In the other reality, reality was destroyed. But is it truly reality if it isn't real?

The author would like to apologize for this time-wasting silliness.

END.